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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of our favorite romantic comedies
Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson -- not a pairing that springs immediately to mind, but one that works to produce a delightfully sharp, smart, funny film. Throw in Ned Beatty, Herbert Lom, and a very young Sam Waterston, and you have a real winner. Hopscotch is one of those movies that we just watch over and over again. Having gone through two or three copies of the...
Published on May 13 2003 by Robin Wolfson

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars SARDONIC MATTHAU AND SOPHISTICATED JACKSON
HOPSCOTCH (Criterion) from 1980 is a light-weight, cynical but entertaining take on Cold War shenanigans. Walter Matthau is at the top of his form as Miles Kendig, a sardonic CIA agent who, suddenly relegated to a desk job in an agency power play, announces plans to get even by publishing a tell-all book. Ned Beatty is Matthau's arrogant, crude, boss who is increasingly...
Published on April 17 2003 by Robin Simmons


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of our favorite romantic comedies, May 13 2003
By 
This review is from: Hopscotch (Widescreen) (DVD)
Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson -- not a pairing that springs immediately to mind, but one that works to produce a delightfully sharp, smart, funny film. Throw in Ned Beatty, Herbert Lom, and a very young Sam Waterston, and you have a real winner. Hopscotch is one of those movies that we just watch over and over again. Having gone through two or three copies of the tape, we're now getting the DVD.
This is one of those movies that runs on pure wit. One of our favorite scenes is Matthau's engineering the destruction of the CIA director's country house -- by the CIA, and accompanied by the score of Madama Butterfly. As for the cast, Jackson is a perfect droll foil for Matthau's wild irreverence as he undertakes writing his memoirs -- a disclosure of CIA operations during his career as station head in Europe -- and then proceeds to release them, a chapter at a time, to all the major powers. Suddenly, everyone wants the memoirs -- and Matthau -- suppressed, with extreme prejudice. And the chase is on.
If you're looking for fast action, gun battles, car chases, and Matrix-style special effects, look elsewhere. But if you want a smart, talky, brilliantly plotted and performed romantic thriller-comedy, Hopscotch is a sure bet. Well, I'd love to continue this review, but I'm getting a sudden urge to watch Hopscotch again, for the umpteenth time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He's about to expose the CIA, the FBI, the KGB...and himself, July 14 2004
This review is from: Hopscotch (Widescreen) (DVD)
Off the top of your head, how many funny spy films can you think of? The James Colburn 'Flint' films of the 60's? The Austin Powers movies perhaps? Or that incredibly lame Leslie Nielsen film...Spy Hard (1996)? Over-the-top silliness seems to be a common theme in these films, but Hopscotch (1980), based on a book written by Brian Garfield, also a comedy involving spies, manages to rise above, avoiding the slapsticky and crude humor, rather providing a charming and intelligent story that entertains throughout. Directed by Ronald Neame (Prudence and the Pill, The Poseidon Adventure, The Odessa File), the film stars a wonderful and accomplished cast of actors including Walter Matthau, Glenda Jackson, Sam Waterston, Herbert Lom, and Ned Beatty.
Matthau plays Miles Kendig, one of the CIA's top field agents who suddenly finds himself relegated to a desk job after control of the department he works for is taken over by a petty, vindictive, and less than capable man named Myerson (Beatty) who seems to harbor a personal grudge against Kendig. Unable to deal with riding his career out behind a desk, Kendig leaves the agency, and, after much thought, decides to write his memoirs, detailing all kinds of juicy, sensitive stuff about not only his own agency, but also intelligence agencies throughout the world. After being in the biz for thirty years, he certainly has the inside scoop on all kinds of things, causing his former boss to put out the order for his termination, elimination, liquidation, extermination, what have you...with the aid of a wealthy widow and love interest named Isobel who was also once in the game, played by Jackson, Kendig begins leading his former colleagues on a chase that spans halfway around the globe, always managing to stay one or two steps ahead. Will he be able to finish his book before his old agency or that of a foreign power catches up to him? Even if he does, will he live to see his work published?
Hopscotch is a wonderfully witty, light comedy with a dash of sophistication that nearly everyone can enjoy. Matthau plays his role so perfectly that after seeing the film, you could imagine no one else in the part. He's certainly got that whole irascible charm thing down, and it fits with the character very well here. I loved how his character never seemed to lose his calm composure, constantly outwitting and outsmarting his former co-workers in leisure like fashion, given that he probably wrote the book and trained half the men now chasing him. The element of Kendig using the notion of a book for revenge at first, but then once removed from the work he participated in for so long and seeing just how nasty it is from an outside perspective decides to follow through with his initial threat of finishing the book and getting it published. Jackson plays so very well off Matthau, and they create a level of chemistry that's pretty rare, in my opinion, between on screen couples. They just seem to fit so naturally together, creating a level of believability to counteract the somewhat unrealistic element that the CIA are a mostly a bunch of bumbling buffoons. Did anyone else think her hair was a bit too short, giving her the appearance of a young boy? Maybe it was just me... I really enjoyed a young looking Waterston (Law and Order) as Cutter, Kendig's competent and intelligent protégé now responsible for finding and eliminating his former mentor. I read that he'd actually come into shooting late due to the film he was working on prior, Heaven's Gate (1980) ran past its' shooting schedule, and is the reason why Waterston looks so very tired in some of the scenes in Hopscotch. Herbert Lom is also very good as a Soviet agent named Yaskov, one "who's seen Casablanca one too many times", although I felt he deserved a bit more screen time. Ned (Squeal like a pig for me, boy) Beatty is a riot as Myerson, constantly exasperated by his group's futile attempts to put a lid on the loose cannon he himself let loose due to his own petty dislikes for Kendig. Imagine someone you work with that no one likes, and then that person finally getting a little bit of power, lording over certain individuals, power tripping here and there, but mostly tripping over his own feet, and you basically have Myerson. The direction by Neame was most excellent, keeping the viewer (me) engaged throughout, with a smooth, steady pace as the story unfolded, which is a bit light in some parts, but did nothing to reduce my enjoyment of this charming, funny film.
Criterion provides a superior high-definition digital transfer here in wide screen format and a cleaned up soundtrack. The quality of the picture is really fabulous, especially when compared to my old VHS copy. As far as special features are concerned, there's not as much as I would have thought from a Criterion release, but what's here is very worthy. There's liner notes on the insert inside the DVD case by Bruce Eder, a video introduction by writer Brian Garfield and director Roland Neame along with interviews, a separate audio track, a clean version created for television broadcast along with the original version (there's very little profanity in the film, but what this is comes from Ned Beatty's character Myerson) and an original theatrical trailer along with a teaser trailer for the film. If you're looking for a smartly funny engaging comedy that only gets better after repeated viewings, then Hopscotch is for you.
Cookieman108
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars SARDONIC MATTHAU AND SOPHISTICATED JACKSON, April 17 2003
By 
Robin Simmons (Palm Springs area, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hopscotch (Widescreen) (DVD)
HOPSCOTCH (Criterion) from 1980 is a light-weight, cynical but entertaining take on Cold War shenanigans. Walter Matthau is at the top of his form as Miles Kendig, a sardonic CIA agent who, suddenly relegated to a desk job in an agency power play, announces plans to get even by publishing a tell-all book. Ned Beatty is Matthau's arrogant, crude, boss who is increasingly desperate to off Matthau before the book gets out. (By a fluke, there was just such a book that made big news after this film went into production!)
Sunny, globe trotting locations from Atlanta to Berlin to Vienna and laid back direction from Ronald Neame are a big plus, but what makes this a worthy consideration for your digital library is the classy chemistry between Matthau and Glenda Jackson, who plays Matthau's Viennese lover. Remember their near-perfect pairing in 1978's House Calls? It's as good if not better here. The widescreen transfer is super crisp and there's a fun interview with Neame and author Brian Garfield.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly funny, Aug. 11 2010
By 
This review is from: Hopscotch (Widescreen) (DVD)
This is an amazing movie and many will not even know it exists but I saw it on tv and found it on dvd. It is about a spy who gets disrespected from his superior and he decides to retire and write his memoirs and telling stuff he probably shouldn't. He leads a merry chase around the world as they try to find him and stop him from releasing his memoirs. He shows he is the master spy and no one can catch him unless he wants to be caught. He wins the game. Incredibly funny movie - highly recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of our favorite romantic comedies, May 13 2003
By 
This review is from: Hopscotch (Widescreen) (DVD)
Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson -- not a pairing that springs immediately to mind, but one that works to produce a delightfully sharp, smart, funny film. Throw in Ned Beatty, Herbert Lom, and a very young Sam Waterston, and you have a real winner. Hopscotch is one of those movies that we just watch over and over again. Having gone through two or three copies of the tape, we're now getting the DVD.
This is one of those movies that runs on pure wit. One of our favorite scenes is Matthau's engineering the destruction of the CIA director's country house -- by the CIA, and accompanied by the score of Madama Butterfly. As for the cast, Jackson is a perfect droll foil for Matthau's wild irreverence as he undertakes writing his memoirs -- a disclosure of CIA operations during his career as station head in Europe -- and then proceeds to release them, a chapter at a time, to all the major powers. Suddenly, everyone wants the memoirs -- and Matthau -- suppressed, with extreme prejudice. And the chase is on.
If you're looking for fast action, gun battles, car chases, and Matrix-style special effects, look elsewhere. But if you want a smart, talky, brilliantly plotted and performed romantic thriller-comedy, Hopscotch is a sure bet. Well, I'd love to continue this review, but I'm getting a sudden urge to watch Hopscotch again, for the umpteenth time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Smart, Stylish Comedy, Nov. 4 2002
By 
Dumb Ox (Manassas, VA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hopscotch (Widescreen) (DVD)
We saw this movie back in the early 1980's and loved it, but by the time we tried to get a copy, it had gone out of print. Many thanks to Criterion for releasing it on DVD! This film is superb, well-written and directed, with a cast of very gifted performers. The actors play their roles to the hilt and have a terrific chemistry onscreen.
The plot is basic revenge, perpetrated on the CIA by one of its top operatives. Walter Matthau plays the amiable Kendig, a man who's served in the field for decades and is an excellent agent. He's smart yet still down-to-earth; his reputation among the underworld of spydom is the stuff of legends. Kendig is respected even by his enemies for his savvy decisions and sense of fair play, and his reluctance to resort to dirty tricks. His new boss, Meyerson (Ned Beatty) resents his underling's popularity and decides to neutralize Kendig's effectiveness by yanking him from the field and assigning him to a desk job as a file clerk.
To say that Kendig despises his new boss would be a gross understatement. A switched file is shredded and Kendig vanishes, fleeing to Austria and his lover Isobel (Glenda Jackson). From there, he nurses his wounds and launches on his vengeance against Meyerson and the CIA by writing a book that reveals the agency's dirty tricks and botched missions. Meyerson is livid and assigns Joe Cutter (Sam Waterston) to put a stop to Kendig by any means necessary, especially assassination. Cutter admires Kendig and is torn by his personal feelings for the man and his desire to serve his country.
The story then twists and turns as Kendig leads his former employers on a huge wild goose chase. He calls them from a phone booth right near the CIA headquarters, hides out in Meyerson's southern house---which is later demolished by the feds themselves---, and feeds chapters of the book to Meyerson to whip him into a frenzy of ineffectual rage. He plans on getting the entire book to a publisher, and his means for doing so and ensuring his own protection from future assassination attempts are ingenious.
We are very happy that this movie was released to the public once again. Matthau is superb as a real man working in an unreal world of espionage. Herbert Lom is great for the role of his KGB counterpart, and Glenda Jackson is both tart and elegant as the enigmatic Isobel, who frankly adores Kendig. Ned Beatty plays the part of the oafish Meyerson to perfection, making the viewer hate him thoroughly. Waterston is in excellent form as the good-hearted and conflicted Cutter, and shows hints of his mildly acerbic wit that would come to fruition in his later role of McCoy. The supporting players are fine, too, and the plot is well-crafted and believable.
The DVD is nicely done. There aren't many extras, but it's beautifully produced and does have a nice feature: an alternate soundtrack that deletes the foul language, so even kids can watch it with their parents. We are pleased with our investment, and highly recommend "Hopscotch" to anyone who enjoys a well-done and stylish comedy. It's also perfect for fans of Walter Matthau!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not much to add to the other reviews, but some information, Oct. 26 2002
By 
James M. Hare (Western South Jersey, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hopscotch (Widescreen) (DVD)
I can't improve on most of the other reviews here, as I too think Hopscotch is an under-rated gem, and I've probably watched it at least 20 times. Matthau is marvelous as usual, Beatty is perfect as the CIA honcho, and Sam Waterston is richly understated as the good-guy go-between between the characters of Beatty and Matthau.
HOWEVER, some people who loved this movie may find it nice to know that the piano and orchestra music that underscores much of the movie is the Rondo from Mozart's Piano Concerto #20 in D, K382. There are several dozen versions of it on CD here and there, varying from Brendel's ponderous and slow reading to Annie Fischer's and Murray Perehia's more spirited ones. After hearing the snappy version during the movie, anything slow seems far out of character for the piece.
I always knew it was Mozart, but couldn't for the life of me place it until recently. So there you have it. Since there is no "soundtrack" album, per se, enterprising music lovers with a CD burner can make their own, betwen the Rondo, Barber of Seville, and Un Bel Di..
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5.0 out of 5 stars walter matthau at his best., Sept. 9 2002
By 
bob (kansas city, missouri USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hopscotch (Widescreen) (DVD)
this has got to be one of walter matthau's funniest movies ever.
his wry sense of humour and on the mark timing are used to great effectiveness in this humourous story about a cia agent who finds out that his current boss-played by ned betty(another outstanding performance by him) has plans to retire him to a desk job.mr. matthau's character (miles kendig) has no intention of going down within a fight and decides to have a little fun before he goes out.he leads ned betty and the entire cia on a marvelous hopscotch from europe to america and back (hence the name of the movie).
another steller performance is played by glenda jackson who has worked with mr. matthau in a few other pictures and plays his love interest in this movie.the chemistry between these two is wonderful and i don't believe there is another actor around that could have brought off this part as well as she does.
all the acting in this movie is wonderful and the chemistry between the actors is outstanding. it's a great script and i think persons of my age can identify with the character played by mr. matthay if your getting older and sometimes wonder if you job and everyone around you somedays seem to be trying to retire you early(just alittle healthy paranoia everyone).
i'm so glad they put this out in dvd. you can get a vhs copy of this movie but its gotten so popular-especially after mr.matthaus death that the vhs copies are very expensive...
if you like walter matthau do notmiss this opportunity to own this movie.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "I don't remember you being so short Myerson....", Nov. 9 2000
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Hopscotch (Widescreen) (DVD)
This is one of Walter Matthau's best movies. And as with all of his movies there is a great background musical score. They picked just the right actor for each character. I was impressed when he asked the man behind the counter if he knew German (not if he spoke German).

Talk about nepotism David Matthau plays Ross and someone needs their eyes checked in the credits. The seaplane pilot was defiantly female (suppose to be his doughtier-in-law)

Walter Matthau plays a top CIA agent who's being confined by office politics (Myerson) to a desk job for not taking out the Russian agent Yaskov played by Herbert Lom. The disgruntled Matthau quits the service and heads to Austria, where he links up with former lover (a fellow ex-agent) Glenda Jackson. All goes smoothly until Matthau acts on the advice of Yaskov, who suggests that Matthau, his memoirs (his life in the CIA.) Spitefully, Matthau sends out copies of his first chapter to the heads of the spy agencies throughout the world--and from that point on, he and Jackson don't have a moment's peace. This delights Matthau: now that all of his former colleagues are chasing after him, he has a reason to get up in the morning. As written by Brian Garfield, Hopscotch was a conventionally serious espionage novel. As adapted for the big screen by Garfield and Bryan Forbes, Hopscotch is a lively exercise in cloak-and-dagger comedy, even when the pursuit of Matthau turns surprising towards the end. There were several different angle takes and depending on your copy you may see Sam Waterston's face when he is standing on the cliff. Other versions show his shadow only.
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5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite Movie - Ever, Feb. 8 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Hopscotch (Widescreen) (DVD)
Best romantic comedy and best movie ever in my book. You can't find smarter comedy and the natural chemistry between Matthau and Jackson. I'm from Minnesota and the Grumpy Old Men series, while great, isn't 1/10th as good as this movie.
Lost in Translation is going to earn some Oscars and this didn't???? Well those who have seen Hopscotch once or, many times as I, know better.
Matthau..." let see your's is gin and ginger ale"
Jackson " mine, was never gin & ginger ale, Montrachet 69' next to the beer".
After Matthau looses a $135 to Jackson in a game of Gin R....
Jackson " you still owe me $135"
Matthau "want to take it out on trade?"
Jackson " what do you have that's worth $135?"
Matthau " Like antiques?"
Simply the best ever..IMO Had to cast my vote... 6 Stars
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Hopscotch (Widescreen)
Hopscotch (Widescreen) by Ronald Neame (DVD - 2002)
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